Spain has confirmed the French arrest of the current military chief of the military wing of Basque separatist group ETA, naming Jurdan Martitegi as the third leader of the group to be arrested in under six months.
Police aren't the only people who oppose ETA
Martitegi was arrested along with two other ETA suspects in the eastern Pyrenees region bordering Spain. The raid in the village of Montrauriol was part of a joint operation between Spanish and French police.
As part of the same operation, a further six suspected ETA members were held during the night in the cities of Bilbao and Vitoria and the town of Renteria in Spain's northern Basque region.
Martitegi and the two other men were carrying pistols and had a stolen car with false license plates at the time of the arrest.
Jurdan Martitegi, ETA's new military leader known is also known as "the giant."
The Basque news agency Vasco Press said Martitegi, 28, had been a member of ETA's most active unit, the "Vizcaya cell," which was blamed for a string of bomb attacks on police stations and government buildings before Spanish police arrested most of the group's other members last July.
Martitegi is believed to have assumed control of ETA military operations after Aitzol Iriondo, who was arrested in south-western France in December. Iriondo himself had only been in the job for less than a month, having replaced Miguel de Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, who was arrested in France in November.
Spain's governing Socialist Party welcomed the "excellent news" of the arrests. ETA, which has been fighting for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France since the 1960s, has killed more than 800 people.